News story

Paterson announces appointment to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Secretary of State Owen Paterson MP today announced the appointment of Michael Wardlow as the new Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Secretary of State Owen Paterson MP today announced the appointment of Michael Wardlow as the new Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Owen Paterson said:

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland plays an important role in protecting and promoting equality for everyone in Northern Ireland’s diverse society.  

The new Chief Commissioner will bring with him skills, understanding and knowledge that will contribute greatly to the Commission’s work. The guarantee of equal treatment is an essential underpinning to the development of the more cohesive society and the shared future that people in Northern Ireland aspire to.

I am confident that the new Chief Commissioner will help the Commission deliver on its mission to improve people’s lives in a way that commands support across the community.

The Secretary of State also thanked the outgoing Chief Commissioner, Bob Collins, for the work that has been completed under his leadership.  

He said:

The outgoing Chief Commissioner has made a valuable contribution to the promotion and protection of equality for everyone in Northern Ireland.

I am extremely grateful to him for the effectiveness and commitment he has shown during his appointment.

Notes to editors

  1. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland was created by the Northern Ireland Act 1998, as part of the Belfast Agreement. It took over the functions of the Fair Employment Commission, Equal Opportunities Commission, Council for Racial Equality and Northern Ireland Disability Council. The Secretary of State makes appointments to the Commission, but it is funded by the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

The Equality Commission is responsible for policing the Statutory Duty on all public authorities in Northern Ireland to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity across a range of areas including religion, political opinion, gender, race, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability and those with and without dependants.

See the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland website

  1. Brief summary of appointee’s career:

Michael Wardlow currently works as a freelance consultant specialising in assisting organisations or groups, nationally or internationally based, which are working in the broad area of citizenship, equality, cohesion, integration, peace building and reconciliation. Until August 2009, he was Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, a post he held from 1995. Within this role he worked to promote the growth and development of integrated education in Northern Ireland. The majority of his work has been in the area of peace building, good relations and reconciliation, focusing on youth work and leadership training. He has a strong connection with the YMCA having held both paid and voluntary appointments since 1975, including Development  Executive in Eastern and Central Europe (1991-1994) and Director of Training (1988-1991). He is a member of the Board of War on Want NI (Chair) Youthnet (Chair), Platform for Change, NI Foundation, One Small Step, Queens University Senate, Probation Board NI, and various overseas committees for YMCA. On taking up this appointment he will stand down from the Policing Board.

  1. Terms of appointment

Appointments are made in line with Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments regulations.

The new Chief Commissioner will take up appointment on 1 March 2012.

The Chief Commissioner’s term will last five years and he will receive remuneration of £70,000 on a pro rata basis.  

  1. OCPA Code of Practice

The Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice stipulates that independent scrutiny is a mandatory element of every competition. No chair or non-executive member appointed to a public body within the Commission’s remit may be made unless an independent assessor has been involved in the process to ensure that the procedures set out in the Code are applied. An independent assessor has been involved in the appointments process throughout. The procedures have complied with the OCPA Code of Practice for Public Appointments.  

  1. Political activity

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.  However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity in defined categories within the last five years to be made public.  Michael Wardlow has not participated in any political activity within the last five years.

  1. Statutory requirements

This appointment was made by the Secretary of State, taking account of his statutory duty under section 73 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, to ensure, as far as practicable, that the Commissioners, as a group, are representative of the community in Northern Ireland.